EDMONTON, A.B.—October 20, 2020—Keeping everyone in Canada as safe as possible and focused on their physical and mental health during an unprecedented pandemic is the guiding priority of more than 6,000 fitness clubs, gyms, and studios from coast-to-coast.
Fitness Industry Council of Canada (FIC) has committed to meeting or exceeding government and health authority guidelines that have been proven to be effective at minimizing risk and virus transmission. FIC has also committed to working collaboratively with health and government officials to develop guidelines and regulations that prioritize health and safety.
"We know the positive impact exercise has on the physical, psychological, and social health of people, and are committed to providing safe solutions," said Scott Wildeman, President, FIC. "We want to work as an active partner with government and healthcare officials and help them make evidence-based decisions to protect our members and employees — and keep our doors open."
"We're welcoming back increasing numbers of people in our gyms and studios, but we also desperately need government support to ensure we remain sustainable in this new normal of restrictions and shutdowns."
Canadian fitness facilities generate nearly $4 billion in revenue annually and employ tens of thousands of people. FIC represents all levels of facilities, from the largest chains – GoodLife Fitness, Orangetheory Fitness, MOVATI Athletic, Énergie Cardio, GYMVMT, Trevor Linden Club 16, etc. – to the thousands of smaller, independent studios and gyms that are also struggling to survive amid capacity restrictions, rolling closures and threats of future shutdowns.
"As a small business owner, the shutdown in the spring stretched finances about as far as they could possibly go," said Jeff Ardron, President and GM of Fitness Unlimited Athletic Club in Maple Ridge, B.C. "We were able to reopen, but not all gyms and studios were as lucky. We have received a lot of support from our members, but if another closure were to happen, I'm not sure what the outcome would be."
"Most fitness facilities are operating at approximately 60 per cent of the pre-pandemic revenues," said Wildeman. "At the same time, they've made significant investments in additional personal protective equipment, cleaning and sanitizing equipment, staff training, in addition to other measures to protect their employees and members. Canadians are in real danger of losing many of their neighborhood gyms and boutique studios."
In association to the fitness club industry, businesses that depend on this industry such as vendors, suppliers, fitness apparel, supplement industry, cleaning companies, landlords/real estate companies, etc. have all been harshly affected.
Since the pandemic closed fitness facilities in the spring, FIC has worked closely with its provincial divisions to provide public-health-approved guidelines and standards. These efforts allowed fitness facilities to reopen carefully and responsibly in the summer, and to continue ongoing operations.
FIC member facilities are known to operate safe businesses and follow a strict set of guidelines. Among the guidelines, FIC members have committed to:
- Increase cleaning frequency and intensity
- Provide greater availability of hospital-grade and cleaning and disinfecting supplies
- Provide pre-book and/or time limited workouts (which also ensures contact tracing)
- Employ monitor and/or "compliance ambassadors" who ensure members and staff are following the enhanced safety standards
- Include adequate spacing of all equipment and marking/blocking on gyms floors to ensure proper distancing
- Mandate effective PPE usage protocols
The protocols followed by FIC members ensure that the industry is ready to support individuals in the best way possible when it comes to their wellbeing. Dr. Sharkawy, a Canadian Infectious Disease Specialist from Toronto, ON, states that "Gyms, fitness studios can play a vital role in combatting stress, maintaining health during a pandemic…" (via Twitter @SharkawyMD).
To date, Canadian fitness clubs, gyms and studios have accommodated more than 20-million workouts since gyms and studios initially reopened after the nationwide spring shutdown. A critical key to its success is the industry's unparalleled ability to control and track who is working out in their clubs and studios. Using electronic card swipes, mobile apps and in-person monitoring, facilities are actively managing the social distancing and traffic flow within their facilities. If a suspected exposure is identified, fitness operators can alert anyone potentially impacted more quickly and more accurately than other businesses.
"Ontario gyms are working around the clock to maintain the trust of our members, our employees and public health officials," said Wildeman. "It's unfortunate that, like other industries, a few isolated incidents have garnered disproportionate attention where standards and protocols were not followed — by members or operators. Thousands of fitness facilities have reopened safely, welcomed members back and are well prepared for any additional waves of COVID-19."
"We're going to continue to work together to protect our employees, members and communities and offer the safest environments we can. It's in all our interests to keep everyone safe, physically fit and mentally healthy."
Fitness Industry Council of Canada (FIC) is the not-for profit trade association that represents the voice of fitness facility operators across Canada. Representing more than 6,000 facilities with more than six-million members nationwide, FIC pursues a legislative agenda in the hope of bettering the fitness industry for both consumers and operators. FIC aims to work with both industry and government to improve the health and physical activity levels of Canadians.